Ladies, you've probably noticed by now that the Eagles fan in your life is sporting a tad more facial hair. OK. A lot.

Stop complaining. Chances are he'll be scruffy through Feb. 2, the day after his beloved Birds possibly play in the Super Bowl. Knock on Astro Turf.

"I won't touch it," 21-year-old Zachary Serabian said about the itchy black shadow he started to let frame his face a few days before the Eagles smashed the Dallas Cowboys.

"I grew my beard out for the Phillies, and lo and behold, they won! It might work for them."

Last month, Eagles safety Brian Dawkins kicked off the no-shaving trend as a way to motivate his teammates.

". . . It's just a reminder that every time I get up and every time that I look in the mirror and every time this thing itches you, it reminds me what's going on right now," Dawkins said during a news conference. Brothers in scruffiness include owner Jeff Lurie, and players Kevin Curtis, Jon Runyan and L.J. Smith.

Nobody really paid attention to the players' days-old stubble until Sunday's game against the Minnesota Vikings when cameras kept panning on Andy Reid's furry, two-tone chin.

But like style critics' reaction to coach Reid's fuzzy face, Eagles fans' beards aren't always welcome fashion changes, either.

"It's a silly thing. My wife hates it," said Serabian's older brother, Kevin Kaufman, 38, who also is bearding up in solidarity. "I'm a huge Eagles fan. I want to show support for the Birds."

Who knows why men take leave of their grooming senses when they are up against a competitive wall? Perhaps the superstition harks back to the biblical story of Samson, who loses all of his strength after his lover, Delilah, orders a slave to shave his head.

These days a beard can be a man's way of ignoring society's clean-shaven rules. Hockey players routinely grow out their hair when they are in the playoffs.

"There is something about the connection between sports and facial hair that tends to be compelling," said Aaron Perlut, chairman of the St. Louis-based American Mustache Institute.

"Facial hair has always been one of the most consistent forms of self-expression; it can compensate for other deficiencies, and there is a certain toughness that comes with facial hair."

Some say men turn to whiskers after a defeat as a way to change their image. After losing the mayoral race against John Street in 2003, Sam Katz grew out his beard, as did Al Gore after he lost the presidency to George W. Bush.

"I didn't have to worry about how I looked because I wasn't running for office anymore," Katz said.

Last year real estate developer and entrepreneur Aaron Cohen decided he'd grow a beard as a way of symbolically getting a handle on a business deal he wanted but wasn't sure would happen.

"Guys feel like it's something they can do while they wait for what they really want," Cohen said. "It's a way of participating in your fate, superstitious as it may be."

Die-hard fans - the ones who wear specific Eagles Green undies, have special hats and only eat a particular kind of chili on game day - won't so much as comb the beard for fear of disturbing "the force."

But Eagles fans who have "button-up" jobs may want to keep these grooming tips in mind, said Jessica Hammel, president of American Male, a full-service salon for men with five locations in the Philadelphia area.

Hammel suggests that men who are growing a beard not shave the hair under the chin because the abrupt line looks corny, not trendy. But, she said, men shouldn't let their facial hair grow farther than their Adam's apple.

Beards that are patchy, she said, should be kept very close to the face until the rest of the hair can grow in. And two-tone beards can be dyed, but that should only be done by a professional.

"Scruff is in now," Hammel said. "So this look is kind of OK. But Andy Reid shaved [too much of] his neck. That doesn't quite work for me."

Contact fashion writer Elizabeth Wellington at 215-854-2704 or ewellington@phillynews.com. Check out the fashion blog at www.philly.com/philly/blogs/ mirrorimage.